Rose Johnny (Jessica Biel) is a single mother. She has a son in a vegetative state at a hospital piling up medical bills. She struggles to make ends meet at a seedy strip club.
Those scenes with Biel and her child are the only effective ones in Powder Blue, an awful melodrama about lonely people living in Los Angeles. By the time she meets her new boyfriend (Eddie Redmayne) in an unbelievable sequence, her emotion is gone. There is a reason the film went straight to video despite a loaded cast and what is sure to be infamous nude scenes with Biel.
Despite the variety of characters, including a suicidal Forest Whittaker, dying Ray Liotta, and lonely Lisa Kudrow, none of them feel connected. Their individual stories are just that, even if their lives cross. Unlike something such as Crash, which is able to intertwine multiple plot lines effectively, Powder Blue just throws them on screen with no care as to why these stories are important to the viewer.
Each of these downtrodden stories is hampered by awful dialogue, and in many cases, painful delivery. There are numerous scenes ruined by unintentional comedy from the actors and actresses speaking these unnatural lines of dialogue.
Opening moments are jarring, with the stories cut quickly and introduced in a way that following them is difficult. Jump cuts are a drastic miscalculation.
By the end of the film, the film loses all credibility. Seeing Ray Liotta buried in an unexplained blue snow as he visits his daughter in a dream sequence is ridiculous. The movie is trying far too hard to be legitimate and emotional, but misses the mark and goes well past. Kudos to the studio head who kept this on video.
Intentionally noisy, this AVC encode handles the material well. Some artifacting is a minor issue within the noise. Detail is superb, and facial textures are stunning. Sharpness is excellent, although shaky black levels tend to waver. Contrast is mostly under control, with a few sequences (including a funeral) blown for effect. What effect it actually achieves is unknown.
Color saturation depends on the scene and the director’s choice. When natural, flesh tones are excellent. When heavily saturated, the transfer still holds up nicely without bleeding.
The best of this DTS-HD track comes from inside the strip club. The musical choices bleed into the surrounds, while the usual thumping bass delivers a powerful jolt. Dialogue is handled nicely, and mixes well without volume adjustment. This is a pedestrian mix otherwise, with front-loaded dialogue and little ambiance to speak of.
A director Timothy Linh Bui and producer Tracee Stanley commentary is in-depth, although the material isn’t that interesting to begin with. Shooting Blue is a standard making of, with cast and crew discussing inspirations behind some footage from the set. A still gallery and trailer round up are standard fare.